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promising young athletes in Pelalawan

You’ll be hard pressed to go anywhere in Indonesia at the moment without hearing about the ongoing 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang. Almost every Indonesian citizen, young and old, is participating in cheering on their home-grown athletes to achieve victory at the biggest sports event in Asia in 2018.

Competing on an international stage and achieving such success are not easy feats – they require years of preparation and training, which are often provided to prospective future athletes from an early age.

Even then, sporting success can also be due to whether there are quality facilities available to the athletes to train at.

Some young athletes who reside in certain regions, particularly rural areas, may not be as lucky to have access to the sports facilities that they require.

It was with this realization that APRIL subsidiary PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) created the Future Athletes Training Centre (PPLAMD) in the Pelalwan Regency in 2007. Launched with the support of the then-Mayor, PPLAMD was established with the goal of providing training to promising young athletes from the local community. The centre focused on three sports which were chosen due to their popularity in the area: karate, badminton, and tennis.

The centre was also part of APRIL founder Sukanto Tanoto’s vision that everyone should have the opportunity to realize his or her full potential.

 

Trophy and medal from the young athletes

In 2014, when a land area of 300 hectares in Rupat Island, Bengkalis Regency in Indonesia’s Riau province was burning, 42-year-old Sulaiman was among those deployed to help suppress the forest fire.

Sulaiman is a member of the Fast Emergency Response Team (FERT) at PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), which is responsible for handling any forest fires that affect RAPP concession areas.

Although the fire in Rupat Island was not a part of RAPP’s concessions, Sulaiman and his team decided to join the fight, alongside other firefighters from local government agencies.

“For two weeks, we were there to help. We had to go deep into the forest to reach the source of the fire,” said Sulaiman.

There was no direct access to the fire source, so the team had to walk five kilometres to the site while lugging their firefighting equipment and water sources with them, he said. 

Due to this, Sulaiman and the rest of the team also had to stay in the forest with limited food throughout the two weeks, as it would be unfeasible for them to leave the forest in the midst of their firefighting efforts.

“There were various challenges in the field, but we finally succeeded (in overcoming the fire),” said Sulaiman.

Sulaiman shares that being a leader of a firefighting squad was something that had never crossed his mind when he was growing up.

Fire Emergency Response Team is checking the fire suppresion tool
Sulaiman and Fire Emergency Response Team

A few years ago, life was tough for Apo, 32, and her family. 

She grew fruit and vegetables on her small plot of land in Penyengat village, but a lack of equipment and skills meant that yields were low. Her monthly income ranged from IDR300,000-IDR500,000 (USD20-34).

"Maybe because the land is not large and we were not focused, the result is not really much," said Apo.

Seeking improvement she joined the local Bina Tani farmer cooperative, which introduced Apo and other members of his village to the One Village One Commodity (OVOC) program, run by local pulp and paper company RAPP.

Aco one of the pineapple farmer
One Village One Commodity in Penyengat Village

RAPP Sialang Honey

Indonesia’s Riau province and its lowland tropical forests is home to a wide variety of Sialang trees – tall trees where bees reside and produce honey, aptly named ‘Sialang honey’.

The honey is prized by locals who believe it has health benefits, and harvesting Sialang honey has long been a traditional practice by the communities who reside near these forests.

However, the existence of Sialang honey is rare these days, primarily due to major deforestation practices over previous decades but also because of continuous harvesting of the honey throughout the years by farmers who did not realize the need to allow time for the honey supply to regenerate.

With low, unreliable harvests and a resulting lack of regular customers for the product, Sialang honey farmers therefore face uncertain incomes and livelihoods.

Seeing this problem, Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) decided to step in and help the Sialang honey farmers, by establishing Rumah Madu Andalan in RAPP’s Integrated Training and Business Development Centre.

RAPP's sialang honey Foresbi

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